2012 NFL Season: Surprise Teams & Disappointment Teams


The 49ers were the major surprise team in the NFL in 2011.

We are coming into the NFL forecasting season where every pro football media person is required, by law, to offer his or her 2012 season prediction for each team. But they always get it wrong! Why? Because they fail to take into account surprise and disappointment teams.

First, some definitions:

I'll define a successful NFL season as one in which a team wins ten games or more. In the ten-year, 32-team era (2002 thru 2011), 37 teams have ended the regular season with a record of 10-6. 32 of them made the playoffs and the five that missed were in the hunt to the last game. Only one team with more than ten wins failed to get into the post season party.

An unsuccessful season is one in which a team loses ten games or more. Any fan that has suffered through a ten-loss season will agree.

A surprise team goes from a ten-or-more loss season to ten-or-more wins in the next season. A disappointment team is just the opposite, going from winning ten or more, to winning six or fewer the next season.

Next, some stats:

Using 1989 as a base year ('88 was a strike year), we get 22 seasons to look at. There has been an average of 2.05 surprise teams and 1.87 disappointment teams per year during that time.

In the 32-team era, with more teams and greater parity, there has been an average of 2.67 surprise teams and 2.56 disappointment teams per year.

You can view the spreadsheet that generated these stats HERE. So, here's your challenge...

Here are the teams that qualify as potential surprise teams this year.

Miami Dolphins, 6-10
Buffalo Bills, 6-10
Cleveland Browns, 4-12
Indianapolis Colts, 2-14
Jacksonville Jaguars, 5-11
Washington Redskins, 5-11
Minnesota Vikings, 3-13
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4-12
Carolina Panthers, 6-10
St. Louis Rams, 2-14

History says that 2.67 of the above teams will win 10 or more games this season.

Pick them!

Here's a bigger challenge:

These are the teams that qualify as potential disappointment teams.

New England Patriots, 13-3
Pittsburgh Steelers, 12-4
Baltimore Ravens, 12-4
Houston Texans, 10-6
Green Bay Packers, 15-1
Detroit Lions, 10-6
Atlanta Falcons, 10-6
New Orleans Saints, 13-3
San Francisco 49ers, 13-3

History says that 2.56* of the above teams will lose 10 or more games in 2012.

Can you pick them?!

*There are only nine disappointment candidates this year while the 2002-2011 average is 10.5.

Bonus challenge:

How will the surprise and disappointment teams affect the Seahawks' season?

More fun:

Looking at the 1989-2011 NFL wins data, you can find interesting stuff such as:

"YO-YO" teams. The kings of the Yo-Yo teams are the New York Jets. The Jets won 9 games in 2002. Then dropped to 6 wins in '03. Rebounded to 10 wins in '04 and crashed to 4 wins in '05. Back up to 10 in '06 and down again to 4 wins in '07 before returning to 9 wins in '08. I guess we now know why Jets fans are so psychotic.

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